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Practice Justice

Justice and Stewardship

Love and service in the light of Rev. Dr. King’s legacy
by Yolanda Denson-Byers | January 18, 2021

In every Sunday worship service at Faith Lutheran Church (FLC), we tell a story about how God is at work in and through my congregation in the city of Becker, MN. We do this because we have found that our parishioners are inspired when they hear about how their generosity allows us to be the hands, feet, and smile of Jesus in our community and beyond. 

As a missional church, we understand that we are blessed to partner with God in the work God is already doing in our neighborhood. Some have pulled from Martin Luther’s teachings, the idea that, “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.” 

This is the place from which I start all my teaching about stewardship. I remind myself that Jesus said that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12: 30-31). Stewardship is all about sharing love with God and neighbor. It is how we activate our love. 

One of the greatest examples of a human who inspired people to exercise stewardship at the highest levels was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As we know, during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, God raised him up as a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness

While Dr. King was certainly one of the most recognizable leaders of that movement for social justice, we must never forget the thousands of men, women, and children whose names we will never know who gave of their time, talent, and treasure to help usher in the reign of God in our country by dismantling American segregation.

Martin Luther King Day is designated as a day of service throughout the United States of America.  As we celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. King, we must never forget that his greatest legacy was his love for Jesus Christ. 

Rev. King once said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King—and all the other unsung heroes of the American Civil Rights Movement—understood this. 

  • They pooled their treasure (e.g., money) and helped one another get to and from work, abstaining from buses. 
  • They gave freely of their talent, working together to change hearts and minds by singing, teaching, preaching, resisting, marching, and creating a better world for us all. 
  • They gave of their time, risking life and limb by facing police officers with vicious dogs and ominous weapons.

Our time, talent, and treasure are among our most precious commodities. Whenever we share them with one another, we share them with God. Given the current milieu, all Christians are called to think about the ways in which our commitments to stewardship and justice can intersect for the sake of the world. Frederick Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

How are you called to serve in the days ahead? What justice issue is so close to your heart that you are willing to generously share of your time, talent, and treasure to help transform our world? As the people of FLC have been answering this question, our financial generosity has increased 18% in just one year. More importantly, people also feel a deeper connection to God and to our Beloved Community. 

What a blessing it is to serve alongside of our God and one another. Thanks be to God!

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Works Mentioned

Buechner, Frederick. Wishful Thinking: a Theological ABC. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1973. 

“‘Drum Major Instinct.’” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, April 4, 2018. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/drum-major-instinct. 

King, “The Drum Major Instinct,” Sermon Delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in A Knock at Midnight, ed. Carson and Holloran, 1998.

“MLK Day of Service.” Accessed December 1, 2020. https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service. 

 

About the Author

Yolanda Denson-Byers

The Rev. Dr. Yolanda Denson-Byers currently serves as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Becker, Minnesota. They are a missional church which affirms that, “All are welcome; with no exceptions". She is the co-author of "Unpacking White Privilege: The Important Work of Making the Church Less Harmful".

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